sexyloops fly tying school part 24 - Extended Foam Body Dragon Fly

sexyloops fly tying school part 24 - Extended Foam Body Dragon Fly

t.z. | Friday, 1 April 2016

So last Friday´s SLFTS theme was extended body flies. I made a point advocating extended body dry flies. Most are simple to tie, I think. For one, the size and shape of the hook is not too much of an obstacle in the flies design. The abdomen of the insect imitation looks more natural. The hook sits under the fly like a keel of a boat, and so stabilising the fly on the water. I think this type of fly hooks very well too. .... Originally I had planned to show you the construction - there is no better word for it as it is quite a construction - of a Mohican Mayfly I tie with CDC. ..... In the process I got our Malaysian agent. He needs to conquer one of this tricky jungle fish, which feeds on Dragon flies. ....

I personally had such a problem only once when fishing for trout in a lake in Canterbury. The fish there where feeding on New Zealand South Island giant dragonfly (Uropetala chiltony). Giant indeed with about 8cm (3 inches) long bodies and wings spanning over 10cm (4 inches). Impossible to tie really. The fish were jumping for them and taking them airborne. So I fished size 16 deer hair flies as dragons helicoptering above over water to feed on smaller insects hatching. The even stuck with me so much that I got myself a tattoo of these majestic insects.


So Paul has now come across the situation that fish are feeding on the insects having fallen on to the water. The specimen he need to imitate are 6cm (2,4inches) and have 4 large wings typical to dragonflies. The technical issue is that the fly should not rotate in the air when cast. I immediately opted for CDC feathers as wings. When tied in correctly they should fold against the fly body, but open up when landing.

So let´s give this task a go. I wrote the step by step on easter and gave Paul the chance to look at it and try to replicate the recipe. Paul described the body of the insect is rather thick, so a foam seems to be a good choice. The foam used for the fly is a so called closed cell foam. 

The other materials are the aforementioned CDC feathers for the wings. I also used CDC as hackle material. As hook I used is one of the weird looking carp fishing hooks I had lying around. I would have preferred to use a barbless, heavier wired hook for the job, but I had nothing big enough lying around. Paul might find some saltwater hooks in his bag. However, as mentioned before - the hook does not play such a big role, it just needs to be curved in such a manner so it can sit under the fly like a keel. 

Closed cell foam floats really well and is available in many colours. I like bright colours which can be easily coloured with a waterproof marker pen. The foam comes in sheets of various thickness. 1 to 1,5mm are ideal for most tasks.  

The stability of the body is obtained by segmenting the foam strip, or better said strips with thread. The thread used for the task shouldn´t be too thin, or it will cut through the foam. This technique also add a very natural appearance as insect bodies tend to be segmented as well.

Extended Foam Body Dragon Fly


things needed:
closed cell foam, materials clip, CDC feathers, thread, superglue, needle, scissors 

and a flytying vice

fabricating the body 

cut two strips of foam

set a needle in the vice
wrap a thread base
attach the foam strips as shown

flip back the foam and advance the thread

flip the foam strips forward and tie them down forming the first segment

keep repeating these steps - segment after segment
note: the thread advances "inside"

finish with a finger whip finish
once you have reached the desired body length 

make sure to not to cut off the thread

push the body off the needle

tying the actual fly

tie in the body onto the hook as shown
the use of superglue is optional

checking the overall length

tie in 4 CDC feathers pointing backwards

spin some CDC in a split thread dubbing loop

suggested reading
part c) - split thread dubbing loop

bring one feather each side to the front
tie down woth the dubbing rope

bring forward the upper foam piece

tie down the uppe foam strip and cut off remains
tie in a red or black foam strip for the eyes (optional)

bring back the lowe foam piece

tie down the upper foam bit in the "neck" of the fly 
whip finisch and you are done


picture by Al Pyke 

Thomas Züllich, or - “t.z.” as most call him - is a German flyfisher & flytier living in Norway. His flydressing is based on old traditions as well as very modern and innovative methods of creating flies. You can book Thomas for guided trips, flytying classes and presentations. He regularly gives speeches and demonstrations at fly fishing fairs. Thomas is member of the ProTeam at Partridge of Redditch as well as Regal Vises.

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